Posts Tagged 'Advent'

Advent: Preparing for the Child

Advent: Preparing for the Child Sermon Audio Here

Isa.7:10-16; Mat.1:18-25

Consider this: what does a young family do to prepare for the arrival of their first child?

How Can We Prepare for The Arrival of Christmas?

Be Aware of the Background ~ Isaiah 7:10-16

  • v10/13 God (through Isaiah) gives Ahaz a message: don’t worry about your current trouble, it will amount to nothing; Ahaz apparently doesn’t believe, and God says “I’ll prove it!” Ahaz says “no way” and God says, fine, I’ll show you myself! We can get so wrapped up in our own problems that we don’t even want to believe that God Himself can get us out of them – this is IDOLATRY – putting ourselves in God’s rightful place
  • v14/16 the FIRST sign is about TIME, not Person: gestation takes about 9 months; babies generally can eat simple solids by 6 months; children can generally tell wrong from right by age 5. Ahaz is being reassured that God will take care of the situation which so worries Ahaz before a child can tell wrong from right.
  • In short: Don’t worry, God is in control

Be Amazed at the Overlay ~ Matthew 1:18-25

  • v18 virgin (the Hebrew just meant young woman; the Greek shows specific miraculous intervention)
  • v19/20 angel (Isaiah was messenger; here, it’s an angel of God; another miraculous overlay)
  • v21/25 Emmanuel/Jesus (Yeshua=”Ye” is a short form of God’s name Yahweh; “shua” is “a saving cry”, what you yell out when you need help. “Yeshua” isn’t just the cry out TO God, but the ANSWER to that cry.)
  • God comes to you to rescue you. And THAT is Emmanuel – God with us… TO SAVE US!

As we enter this Christmas season, it helps to be aware of where IT came from: a fulfillment of a promise to an anxious man that God would care for the world. That promise is overlaid with supernatural power in the person of Christ. God HAS taken care of the world, DOES care for the world, and WILL bring it all to right. Let us enjoy the work He has done, is doing, and will continue to do as we wait for His Return.

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Advent: Preparing for the Last Day

Advent: Preparing for the Last Day Sermon Audio Here

Romans 13:11-14

How do we prepare for the first day of school? How do we prepare for the LAST day of school? What’s the difference? The unknown experience!

How Will We Prepare For The Last Day?

Adjust to God’s Agenda ~ Isaiah 2:1-5

  • v2/3 God will teach us His ways
  • v4/5 God will judge & we will respond with peace ((if our world isn’t peaceful, we’ve got a ways to go))

Wake Up & Get Dressed ~ Romans 13:11-14

  • v11/12 wake up from the darkness
  • v13/14 get dressed for the Day

Matthew 24:36-44 leads us to ask: “When will it happen?” God only knows. SO – keep watch. Be ready. Remind each other as we wait that He will come.

Learning from Luke: A New Kind of Prophet

Learning from Luke: A New Kind of Prophet Sermon Audio Here


Luke 1:57-80

Do you ever get the sense that God is up to something, but you just don’t know what it is? You’re in good company! Old Testament Prophets were visited by the Spirit, and gave the Word of the Lord in response. John the Baptist was a prototype of the Christian life: indwelt by the Spirit. His main message: Get Ready, God’s About To Do SOMETHING…

If You’re Wondering What God is Doing, Ask:

What Prompts You To Praise?
Luke 1:57-66

  • v64 fulfillment of God’s promise leads to praise (cf. v20)
  • v66 Zechariah blesses God; people wonder about it

Where Do You See God’s Promise?
Luke 1:67-80

  • v67/68 “God has redeemed!” future echo of John’s message
  • v69/70 horn of salvation=authority to save?
  • v71/73 God keeps his covenant with us (even today)
  • v74/75 God enables us to serve Him in holiness
  • v76/77 the prophet tells of what God WILL do (ref. to Elijah)
  • v78/79 God’s mercy shines in our darkness to guide us

Notice verse 80: John grew, became strong in the Spirit, and waited for his call. That’s a good example for us, especially during Advent: wait, watch, and grow in God.

Learning from Luke: Soul Lifting

Learning from Luke: Soul Lifting Sermon Audio Here


Luke 1:46-56

The holidays can be a festive time for many, and an emotionally draining time for others. Amid the “ho ho ho” of surface merriment, it can be very challenging to minister to those suffering through the season.

How Do We Deal With Depression?

Remember God’s Choice; Respond With Praise
Luke 1:46-49

  • v46/47 Mary is ALL IN, “body and soul”
  • v48 “gazed with favor on low estate” God chose her, NOT because of how great she was
  • v49 but because of how great HE is

Remember God’s Actions; Respond With Amazement
Luke 1:50-56

  • v50 generational mercy (thinking about the baby?)
  • v51 applied mastery
  • v52 exalts the modest
  • v53 provides for the meager
  • v54/55 assists the minion

Closing thought from verse 56: notice how Mary stayed with Elizabeth. This was for MUTUAL SUPPORT; this is our opportunity and challenge as well – sustain support one for another during times like these. Let us be ALL IN with those who need us most.

Learning from Luke: The Son To Come

Learning from Luke: The Son To Come Sermon Audio Here


Luke 1:26-38

In this section of Luke 1, Jesus’ birth is foretold to Mary. God sends an angel to give Mary a startling piece of news. Have you ever received something so startling, it rocked your worldview? Perhaps Mary can serve as an example to us all:

What Was True For Mary Is True For Us As Well:

The Lord Is With Us
Luke 1:26-33 Gabriel’s Announcement

  • v26/27 once again, notice the details; these ground us in reality
  • v28/29 of COURSE Mary was troubled; when visited by angels,
    most biblical instances show the human is startled
  • v30 “do not be afraid” – most angels say this;
    a VERY good reminder for us when we’re freaking out
  • v31/33 notice how this good news gets better and better as it goes along;
    a son, greatness, called Most High’s Son, David’s heir, reigning, unending kingdom

God Blesses Through Mystery
Luke 1:34-38 Mary’s Response

  • v34 Look how practical Mary is; ummm…
  • v35 this is NOT a description of a physical thing; it is a mystery; Mary does NOT get the “How” of things, just the WHO
  • v36/37 two miracles to notice: you will have a son,
    Elizabeth will have a son;
    (you do not have to go through this alone)
  • v38 simple surrender, even beyond what she can understand

Even though we would very much like God to explain everything to us, that just doesn’t happen. But we can take a cue from Mary’s response to the angel, and also say this to God: I am the Lord’s Servant.

Holy in the Meantime

Holy in the Meantime Sermon Audio Here

Isaiah 40:1-11

          Over the triple doorways of the cathedral of Milan there are three inscriptions spanning the splendid arches. Over one is carved a beautiful wreath of roses, and underneath it is the legend, “All that which pleases is but for a moment.”
          Over the other is sculptured a cross, and there are the words, “All that which troubles us is but for a moment.”
          But underneath the great central entrance to the main aisle is the inscription, “That only is important which is eternal.”

If we always realize these three truths, we will not let trifles trouble us, not be interested so much in the passing pleasures of the hour. We should live for the permanent and the eternal.

To Make The Most of Our Meantime, Remember:

SOMEDAY All Will Be Set Right
Isa.40:1-11 Isaiah: God loves us too much to abandon us

      • v5 the glory WILL BE revealed
      • v6/8 we might not see it; we’re short-lived
      • v10/11 Lord comes with power and compassion, close to His heart

SOMEDAY Might Not Be TODAY
2 Pet. 3:8-15 What to do while we wait?

      • v8 God’s view of time and ours aren’t the same
      • v9 God patiently waits FOR US
      • v10 Day of the Lord is unknown and world changing, SO…
      • v11/12 live holy lives, set apart for God’s use
      • v13/14 new heaven & earth: WITH GOD –

His patience means our salvation, so while we wait, prepare for His presence!

Found Advent Thoughts

advent candles It’s not often that I find articles in newspapers that I wholeheartedly agree with. When I do, I’m surprised, and a little skittish. Having said that, I found an article about Advent, and I thought I’d some excerpts for your consideration:

– “According to ancient Christian tradition, “Christmas” is not the December shopping season in advance of Christmas Day; rather, it is Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the Twelve Days following that run until early January. During most of December, Christians observe Advent, a four-week season of reflection, preparation and waiting that precedes the yearly celebration of Jesus’ birth. In many mainstream and liturgical (and even liberal and progressive) churches, no Christmas hymn will pass the lips of a serious churchgoer for another two weeks.”

– “The mood is somber as December moves toward deeper darkness, and the night lengthens. The world waits, and it is time to prepare for the arrival of God’s kingdom. It is not Christmas. It is Advent.”

– “During these weeks, churches are not merry. There is a muted sense of hope and expectation. Christians recollect God’s ancient promise to Israel for a kingdom where lion and lamb will lie down together. The ministers preach from stark biblical texts about the poor and oppressed being lifted up while the rich and powerful are cast down, about society being leveled and oppression ceasing. Christians remember the Hebrew prophets and long for a Jewish Messiah to be born.”

– “Ancient Christian saints, theologians and evangelists would be horrified that those who claim to stand for tradition have forgotten the most important aspect of it. Jesus Christ was not born that human beings would spend December shopping or saying, “Merry Christmas.” Jesus was born to confront the rulers of this world with the love and justice of the God of Abraham — that Jesus, the same Jesus who preached the the poor and marginalized were blessed, is the King of kings and Lord of lords.”

As we observe Advent, watching and waiting, I’m reminded that we’re not watching and waiting for Christmas; we’re watching and waiting for CHRIST. We remember His birth during the Christmas holiday, but we’re really waiting for His return. When He arrives and calls us Home – that will be something worth celebrating like no other. Until that Day…


Pastor Ed Backell

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